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The History of the Great Concord Grape

Everyone loves Concord grape jam, jelly and juice. In 2015, we’re still proud to say that the popular grape originated here and is named after our historic town.

Concord Grapes - Concord, MA

Image source: MorgueFile

While growing season hasn’t begun in February, the cold weather makes this the perfect time to read about their history. The 2015 winter season has been a frosty one, so we hope learning about the history of the Concord grape brings warm air and fresh fruit to mind.

The Pursuit of Perfection

When Boston native Ephraim Wales Bull decided to develop the perfect grape, he didn’t mess around. It took an astonishing 22,000 seedlings before he hit the not-so-sweet spot: A tart grape with a rich, full-bodied flavor.

Hybrid Grapes

The former gold-leaf maker was inspired to create a new crossbred grape when he admired the taste of a Fox Grape but noticed it was considerably less hardy than a nearby wild-growing grape plant. Early ripening enabled the new hybrid to retain its bold taste while resisting northeastern frosts. Another trait that resulted from grafting the two plants was the Fox Grape’s slip-skin, which can be easily removed from the grape.

A Man on a Mission

Creator of Concord Grape - Ephraim Wales Bull

Image Courtesy of Kaufmann Mercantile

While Ephraim Wales Bull created a grape variety that’s still popular worldwide in 2015, he enjoyed very little financial gain. It was his mission to share this hardy, tasty grape with the world, and the grape’s easy-growing properties made it simple for farmers to grow from seeds or vine cuttings. When the inventor of the Concord grape died in 1895, his epitaph read, “He sowed. Others reaped.”

Concord grapes formed the basis of the first unfermented grape juice, and Ephraim Wales Bull’s hard work even impacted soldiers’ diets in World Wars I and II. The products that evolved from their rations are still popular today. This February, be glad you still enjoy the fruits of the Concord grape creator’s labor in the following forms:

  • Dr. Thomas Welch processes Concord grape juice in 1869
  • 1918: Welch’s produces jam from Concord grapes
  • An unknown World War II soldier creates the peanut butter and jelly sandwich

If you have time after leaving your next dental visit at Concord Woods Dental, go out and enjoy our Concord grapes and let us know how you most enjoy eating them.

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